#FAWSL 2: Brighton & Durham inflict first defeats on top two

Laura Rafferty got the that sent the WSL 2 leaders to a first defeat. (Photo: FA via Getty Images)

Brighton & Hove Albion beat WSL 2 leaders Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-0 and Durham defeated second-placed Millwall Lionesses 2-1.

Aston Villa 1-0 Oxford United (Att: 127)
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles (Att: 606)
Durham 2-1 Millwall Lionesses (Att: 304)
Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Sheffield FC
Watford 0-4 London Bees (Att: 210)

Laura Rafferty’s ninth-minute goal earned brilliant Brighton a 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers Belles – the league leaders’ first defeat of the FA WSL 2 season.

The home side were excellent in the first half and were rewarded with Rafferty’s early goal.

The Belles failed to get an Albion corner all the way clear and defender Rafferty was on hand to put an excellent top-corner finish past Bethan Davies off the second delivery.

Belles couldn’t find an equaliser on a rare off day, meaning the Seagulls remain third in the division but are now just one point behind Millwall Lionesses and seven behind Doncaster.

Brighton boss Hope Powell: “When we went up there it was very, very tough, and credit to them, they’re a very good side actually.

“I think that experience of going up there and being badly beaten, as it were, I think really set the tone for today. The girls really wanted to prove a point and I think they competed very well physically, mentally and tactically.

“It was our game plan to get off to a quick start and we implemented the stuff we did in training this week, and I think we executed it very well.”

Doncaster boss Neil Redfearn: “I don’t think we turned up first half, to be honest with you. We looked a little bit leggy at times after a tough game against Durham. I’m not using that as an excuse but we didn’t apply ourselves like we usually do.

“Second half I thought we battled and we were camped in their half: we just couldn’t fashion a chance.”

Millwall Lionesses suffered their first FA Women’s Super League 2 defeat of the season as Emily Roberts’ first-half rocket saw Durham take all three points.

Emily Roberts scores for Durham. (Photo: @suegutteridge)

The home side grabbed the early initiative when Zoe Ness struck in the sixth minute on her 50th Durham appearance but second-placed Millwall levelled 13 minutes later through Ellie Mason.

Durham retook the lead two minutes before the break via Roberts who rifled in an unstoppable effort which would eventually turn out to be the winner and bring an end to Millwall’s 19-game unbeaten league run.

Durham striker Zoe Ness said: “Overall, as a squad we have managed the game really well and that is what the three points are for; that is the reward.

“When the game is going back and forth like it did, one team needs to take control of things otherwise it just becomes a frantic game and that is where we have shown maturity so credit to our girls.”

Millwall striker Ashlee Hincks said: “We had some chances, they had some chances so maybe overall a draw would have been a fair result.

“But full credit to Durham, they played well and took their chances. We look at ourselves and you see the space the girls had in our area (for the goals); they should never have that.”

Melissa Johnson scored her fourth and fifth goals in two games against Tottenham Hotspur as Sheffield FC held on in another FA Women’s Super League thriller between the two sides.

Melissa Johnson enjoys playing Spurs. (Photo: Sheffield FC)

Johnson netted a hat-trick when the two met in a 4-3 classic in January and her two first-half efforts made the difference this time around.

Ashleigh Neville’s strike and a Sarah Wiltshire wonder-goal either side of Chloe Dixon finding the net threatened a comeback for the hosts.

But Wiltshire scored for a second time – this time at the wrong end as her own goal rounded off the contest.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Juan Carlos Lopez said: “I think the performance was with heart and character, the first half was not good enough, we were second to everything and didn’t play well.

“We didn’t play to the level we usually do and in the second half we played better but was not enough to win.

Sheffield FC’s England U-19 international Hannah Cain added: “It was a good performance by us, we managed to win. Tottenham have given us a difficult time in the past.

“We are pleased with the result. It was a very close game towards the end and they were putting pressure on.

Ebony Salmon’s 13th goal of the season gave Aston Villa a deserved victory over Oxford United.

Salmon goal sinks Oxford. (Photo: Aston Villa LFC)

Both sides were trying to shrug off the losing habit, Villa with six defeats in their last seven league games while Oxford had lost eight of their last ten.

Villa won it six minutes later as Salmon robbed United defender Danielle Carlton and left her for dead before rolling a cool finish past Lambourne.

Aston Villa match-winner Ebony Salmon: “That victory has been a long time coming. We have been going out the past few weeks and putting in performances but we just haven’t been getting the results.

“But today we’ve got the goal and could have had a few more because we had quite a few chances. I think we deserved the three points today.”

Oxford captain Ellis Hillman: “Obviously disappointment is the first reaction that hits you after the final whistle but the fact of the matter is that Villa were the better team.

“We’ve got the talent but we just can’t grind out the results and that is something that we are constantly looking at.”

Sharpshooter Katie Wilkinson scored twice as London Bees claimed derby bragging rights with a comfortable 4-0 win against Watford.

Two-goal Katie Wilkinson. (Photo: London Bees)

Wilkinson nodded home on 14 minutes before splitting the Watford defence open with a pinpoint pass for Destiny Toussaint to tap in approaching half-time.

Substitute Tricia Gould headed in a third after the break before Wilkinson slotted home a last-minute penalty as Bees picked up their fourth win in five games.

London Bees boss Luke Swindlehurst said: “Katie has been excellent since has come in, that’s six goals in four games. She’s a goalscorer, all she needed was to build her fitness and confidence.

“She caused problems bringing in defenders, having shots and bringing people into play, which is all you ask from your central striker. We are really pleased with her form at the minute.”

Watford boss Armand Kavaja said: “We competed, it is getting better but it’s just little things that are costing us goals from set pieces or small mistakes.

“The girls are young, we are working hard and trying to stay positive but the girls are trying their best. It’s a big stage or them at times and little mistakes are costing us.”

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